Erdogan’s visit to Moscow casts no shadow on Armenia-Russia partnership - March, 2011

Turkey's Erdogan was on an official visit to the Russian Federation several days ago. The primary intention of the meeting was to discuss energy matters. The talks did not produce any tangible results as Ankara and Moscow seemed to have disagreed on the Russian-backed South Stream pipeline. What gave the meeting, an otherwise ordinary affair, any newsworthiness was that it was held on the ninetieth anniversary of the Treaty of Moscow. During the meeting, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan presented Russian President Demitry Medvedev a copy of the treaty and Medvedev presented Erdogan with a black and white picture of the historic meeting. The significance of the infamous treaty signed between Bolsheviks and Kemalist Turks in 1921 was that it officially recognized the borders of the Bolshevik state and Kemalist Turkey - at the expense of Armenia's historic lands.

The ordeal felt as if Ankara, seemingly concerned about its eastern borders (which is interesting in and of itself), was desperately seeking reassurance
s from Russia. The continued recognition of the ninety years old treaty in question may be important for Ankara for obvious reasons, they do not, however, mean much (if anything) to Moscow today. Moscow is simply interested in making Ankara dependent on it.

Needless to say, many Armenians are angry and the reoccurring fear is that Moscow is going to sell Armenia and/or Artsakh for better trade deals with Ankara and/or Baku. As usual, Armenia's anti-Russian activists are also jumping on the opportunity to spread some more poison and CIA funded front offices disguised as "independent" press are once again attempting to place a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow.

Ultimately, this is a silly topic and it should have no place in discussions about realpolitik or geopolitics. But seeing that a significant portion of Armenians today are terror struck, I'll make an effort to provide my assessment on the matter.

Before I go on, a friendly reminder - Armenians that bring up the evils of Bolshevism to discredit Russians today are either intellectual midgets or Western agents. Bolshevism was responsible for the utter destruction of the Russian Empire and for the deaths of millions of Christian Slavs. In the early stages of Bolshevism (prior to the Second World War), it is estimated that ninety percent of the Bolshevik leadership were not ethnic Russians. Bolshevism was imported into the Russian Empire to destroy it. The Soviet Union took on a "Russian" face only as an unintended consequence of Stalin's political purges and as a result of the patriotic fervor brought upon by the Second World War.

Enough of the history lesson. I'm going to present the reader with somewhat of a different historical take on the Treaty of Moscow:

Had it not been the Bolsheviks in 1921 that recognized Turkey's eastern borders - have no doubt that it would have been an Armenian delegation that would have done the same if not something worst.
If it wasn't the "Treaty of Moscow", it may very well have been the "Treaty of Yerevan" that recognized Turkey's existing borders. With the Russian Empire destroyed by Bolsheviks and having been abandoned by the English, the French and the Americans by the end of the First World War, we all know that a utterly decimated and totally helpless Armenia was in NO POSITION TO DEMAND ANYTHING FROM ANYONE! Didn't the predecessors of the big talking ARF today also abandon Armenian lands to Turks - simply because there was no way they could hold on to them under the circumstances at the time? Therefore, all the bullshit we now hear about the Treaty of Moscow being somehow "invalid" because "Armenians were not present at the signing" is just that - bullshit! Empty rhetoric. Let's please be intellectually honest with ourselves because we are not fooling Russian or Turkish or Western officials with our wild fantasies.

We Armenians seriously need to learn to differentiate between nationalism/patriotism and stupidity/irrationality.

I'll be the first to loudly say - thank God Armenians were not present at the signing of the treaty! Had they been there, we wouldn't be blaming Bolsheviks for signing the damn thing - we would be blaming Armenians instead!
Look at it this way, at the very least we now have a Bolshevik/Russian punching bag to make our people's Qaj Nazars feel good.

Although much of what I'm about to say is redundant, seeing that Armenians are persistently and stubbornly ignorant of politics and history, I am not going to feel bad for repeating myself.

Moscow is not about to sell Artsakh, they are not going to sell Armenia... As a matter of fact, Moscow is not going to sell anything in the Caucasus. Russia is still not done reversing the major setbacks it suffered during the 1990s. It is well known that the Caucasus region is one of Russia's three most vital geostrategic areas of concern. Accordingly, no Russian leadership will tolerate a foreign political presence in the area - let alone a Turkic-Islamic one! It is also well known that Russia's strategic alliance with Armenia is very deep and one that fully transcends money matters. Russian-Turkish annual trade runs about thirty billion dollars (heavily in favor of Russia). Therefore, had it been money matters at stake here, Moscow would have sold Armenia to the Turks many-many years ago and our ultra-nationalistic Russophobes would not have been able to do anything about it.

Knowing how irrational a significant portion of Armenians will react over this matter (something that took place between “Bolsheviks” and Kemalists some ninety years ago), this was Ankara’s cleaver attempt to blackmail Armenia’s strategic alliance with Russia by sowing seeds of discontent amongst us politically naive Armenians. Seeing the fear and hostility emanating out of Armenians as a result of Erdogan's politically insignificant gift to Medvedev, I'm afraid to say that Erdogan achieved just what he wanted - manipulation of Armenian fears and emotions. Erdogan played Armenians like a fiddle. I tell you what folks – say what you will, when it comes to political matters, Turks are much more sophisticated and much more smarter than Armenians.

Why did Demitry Medvedev reciprocate by presenting Erdogan with a framed picture of the historic meeting? The answer is - protocol (political niceties). From a Russian perspective, even if it hurts Armenian feeling (although not much more), a framed picture of Lenin and some Turk ninety years ago is well worth over twenty billion dollars in gas and oil deliveries to Turkey!

The treaty in question may be very important for Ankara for obvious psychological reasons. The treaty does not, however, mean much (if anything) to Moscow today. It is obvious that Moscow has been baiting Ankara by playing nice. The only thing Moscow is truly interested in doing is tightening the energy noose around Ankara's neck via Gazprom and Rosneft. Moscow's end-game is to neutralize Turkey and perhaps severe it from NATO. Thus, in real political terms, the only thing the copy of the treaty presented to Medvedev will be doing is collecting dust.

After all is said and done, however, Armenians simply need to be fully aware of the following two formulas:
  • No Russian presence in the Caucasus = no Armenian state in the Caucasus
  • If Russia wanted to abandon Armenia to Turks, despite our patriots' best efforts Armenia would cease to exist
Take into consideration the aforementioned two realities of Armenian statehood today when you think about these types of matters. I am in no way suggesting that we don't need to pay close attention to what transpires between Moscow and Ankara. All I am suggesting is not to panic, not to obsess, not to fear-monger and not to act hysterical. I am also suggesting that we look at these types of political matters from a more educated perspective. Armenia is a geostrategic foothold in the south Caucasus for Moscow - and as long as Turks, Iranians, Islamists or Western interests threaten the region, Moscow will continue to jealously protect its relationship with the Armenian state. Moreover, Moscow has invested billions of dollars in various economic and infrastructural projects in Armenia. Thus, Moscow has revealed that it has a vested strategic interest in Armenia. Moscow will not harm its hard won investments.

Nevertheless, from a historical perspective, the reader must be reminded that treaties haven't been worth the paper they are written on. International law or no international law, treaty or no treaty, border recognition or no border recognition, the world community understands only one rule - might makes right! International law is written by the powerful to control the weak. Instead of wasting our precious time and effort pursuing political dead-ends such as genocide recognition and "Wilsonian Armenia", it would be much wiser to concentrate our pan-national efforts on building a powerful Armenia today. Our crying and pleading (at the feet of corrupt Western leaders nonetheless) will only serve to derail our efforts to build a better and stronger Armenia. Only a powerful Armenia can impose its political will on the international stage and correct the wrongs of history.

Which brings me to Ara Papian's work concerning this matter (see corresponding article below). Although Papian's well-researched work does have a great PR value, geopolitically speaking, however,
it’s a waste of time listening to his legalese. Armenians have wasted more than enough time over these types of legal and/or ethical matters. Again, remember the adage the world lives by - might makes right! It's that simple. If you folks want Western Armenia returned, instead of crying and/or acting hysterical - do everything possible to make sure the Armenia we have today grows strong.

Again - laws are made by the powerful to control the weak.

Regardless of the intentions of the authors of the following less-then exemplary news articles that saw light recently, what the pieces in question accomplish is that they clearly underscore the importance of better activism in Moscow by Armenians. Seeing that Turks are very proactive in their dealing within Russia, we Armenians, who are better placed in Russia, need to counteract. By saying counteract, I don't mean making silly comments like - "with strategic partners like Russia who needs enemies?!"

Screaming foul all the time does not work in politics,
as our American diaspora has learned (or should have learned). And angrily cursing at a political entity that can make or break you is utterly foolish - if not suicidal. If the intention here is to simply express hate towards Russian, then what a significant portion of Armenians do today does make perfect sense. If the intention is to safeguard the Armenian state, however, then what Armenians are doing today is utterly counterproductive!

Instead of predicting doom and gloom, Armenians should be figuring out ways to become more influential in Moscow. From high level government sector to the entertainment sector, Armenians are well placed within all layers of Russian society. As I have said on many occasions in the past - Armenians can be in Russia what Jews are in America! Is anyone listening?!

I sometimes feel as if Armenians get enjoyment out of sitting back, acting scared and admiring Jews...

Nevertheless, despite the destructive wishes of our nation's Russophobes,
Moscow and Ankara will not enter into an alliance at Armenia's expense (there are Armenians today that actually wish Moscow did sell out Armenia just to prove a Russophobic point - even if the point they are trying to prove would mean disaster to Armenia. Sadly, this is the actual intellectual/moral caliber of many Armenians today). Despite their very lucrative trade, Russia and Turkey will not enter into an alliance at the expense of Armenia. The signs are clear that despite their healthy relations, Moscow and Ankara are on the opposite sides of the geopolitical fence. The fact is that Russia and Turkey are regional competitors. Moreover, Russians have not forgotten (nor will they easily forgive) the role Turks played in Chechnya and Georgia. Russian officials fully know the dangers of pan-Turkism and Islamic fundamentalism perhaps more so that us Armenians.

I reiterate: despite it's very lucrative economic relationship with Turkey, Moscow continues to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Despite it's very lucrative economic relationship with Turkey, Moscow continues to protect Armenia's borders against Turks. Despite it's very lucrative economic relationship with Turkey, Moscow continues to warn Turkey against making any moves on Armenia. Despite it's very lucrative economic relationship with Turkey, Moscow continues to warn Baku against the resumption of hostilities in Artsakh. Despite it's very lucrative economic relationship with Turkey, Moscow continues investing in the Armenian economy to the tune of billions of dollars and it continues arming and training the Armenian military to the tune of billions of dollars...

The fact is - Russia is the reason why we have been able to maintain a nation-state in the Caucasus and not the big talking but hapless Armenian diaspora. As long as Russia continues deepening its alliance with the Armenian state, I could careless if Russian officials continue handing Turks all of their Bolshevik era pictures!

By the way, other than funding some corrosive programs in the country via NGOs, what exactly has the "civilized West" ever done for Armenia? Should I compare what Russians do for Armenia with what "freedom and democracy loving" American/Western officials have done for Armenia?! There is ABSOLUTELY no comparison. As a matter of fact, unlike Russians that engage in diplomatic niceties with Turks while keeping Armenia safe from Turks - Western officials are fully in bed with Turks. Has NATO made any effort in making Turkey lift its illegal blockade of Armenia?

The absurd, almost surreal, aspect in all this is the fact that many of those that love bad-mouthing Russians today are the same ones that love praising Americans!

Armenians are a strange bunch indeed.

Although Ankara throws a temper-tantrum every time any nation even thinks about the Armenian Genocide, for some strange reason Ankara remains very quite when high ranking Russian politicians visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Armenia. Has anyone else noticed that? The reason why Turkey does not complain is simply this - Ankara fears Moscow's military might at its doorstep and it is sorely dependent on Russian energy. As I have stated on many occasions in the past, Moscow has many reasons (economic, money, trade) to abandon Armenia - but it has not nor will it ever simply because of one very crucially important factor in politics - geostrategy. Simply put: the Kremlin realizes that Armenia is Russia's insurance policy in the south Caucasus. Without a firm foothold in a friendly Armenia, all of Moscow's advantages in the region will be annulled. Kremlin officials realize that a strong Armenia in the Caucasus enhances Moscow's regional strength. As a result, Moscow has been using Armenia as a platform to project its power in the region.

When Turkey abandons NATO, expels its American military presence, breaks its ties with Turkic nations in the Caucasus, joins the CSTO and begins to host a Russian military presence - I'll be the first to worry about Russian-Turkish relations. But don't worry folks, it's NOT going to happen!

Let's stop the fear-mongering about an insignificant treaty signed some ninety years ago and let's begin acting like rational adults. Let's also realize that times have changed. The geopolitical climate that existed prior to the first World War and the one that existed during the First World War and the one that existed after the First World War were all fundamentally/intrinsically different from each other. Each time period in political history is unique and it needs to be observed/assessed independently. Similarly, the geopolitical climate that existed before the Soviet collapse and the geopolitical climate that existed during the transition period after the Soviet collapse and the geopolitical climate that currently exists in the world are also fundamentally different from one another.

While learning from our past mistakes and successes, we need to treat our present situation uniquely. And, more importantly, we need to work collectively to make sure that the ultimate responsibility for the Armenian state stays firmly in Armenian hands in the future.

Every nation needs its ultra-nationalists, if only for effect. I'm glad that the ARF publicly condemned Erdogan's visit to Moscow and I'm glad that they also organized a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Armenia. Russians are not Armenians. An issue that Russian officials may not even notice or simply deem insignificant can be crucially important to us Armenians. Therefore, Russian officials must constantly be reminded of the historical wrongs Armenia has had to endure. Russians officials need to be reminded of Turkish machinations. Russian officials need to be reminded that their most important ally in the region, Armenia, has real concerns. Russian officials need to be reminded that Armenia's national interests in fact coincide with Russia's national interests. This is where my suggesting about making a more powerful political effort in Moscow comes into play. At the end of the day, insults and threats directed against a political entity that enables us to have a state in the volatile Caucasus is not a smart thing to do.

After all is said and done, it all comes down to this. As they have done for centuries, Moscow and Ankara are destined to clash. Turkey is too large, too politically ambitious and too Islamic for Russian tastes. Russia will only engage Turkey from a position of strength.

Those well versed in Eurasian history know that Russians and Turks have been historic rivals for centuries. Due to their respective cultures, sizes and locations, Russia and Turkey are considered to be natural competitors in Eurasia. During the past two hundreds years, Russians and Turks fought about a dozen major wars. Virtually all of the wars in question were won by Russians, the last major one being the Caucasus Campaign during the early stages of the First World War where the Czar's imperial army reached as far as west as Bitlis in Western Armenia. More recently, Turks fought alongside Islamic insurgents in southern Russia and were again defeated. Consequently, despite the growing economic cooperation between Moscow and Ankara these days, I have always believed that Russia and Turkey will clash sooner-or-later. The staff at the well known American think tank, Stratfor, seems to believe so as well.

"Ultimately, both Russia and Turkey know that this relationship is likely temporary at best. The two Eurasian powers still distrust each other and have divergent long-term goals, even if in the short term there is a small window of opportunity for Turkish and Russian interests to overlap. The law of geopolitics dictates that the two ascendant powers are doomed to clash — just not today."


In closing, I'd like to say that Russian-Turkish relations are definitely something for us Armenians to monitor closely but nothing to fear. The more dependent Ankara becomes to Moscow, less likely will it be for it to have a pan-Turkic appetite. The more dependent Ankara becomes to Moscow, less likely will it be for it to threaten Armenia. This topic should help Armenians realize the fundamental need to make a better pan-national effort in the halls of the Kremlin on behalf of Armenia's national interests. Instead of cowering in fear like hapless cowards or predicting doom like obsessive lunatics, we should be using our well placed human assets throughout the Russian Federation for the benefit of the Armenian state. I have discussed this frequently reoccurring triangular topic of Russian-Armenian-Turkish relations on several previous occasions. The links to them can be found below. I have also posted some of the more interesting articles that Erdogan's recent visit to Moscow spawned.

March, 2011

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Russia Tells Turkey To Drop Karabakh Linkage - January, 2010:

Russian Patriarch Visits Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan - April, 2010:

Russia Seeks to Separate Turkey From West Through Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement - May, 2010:

Caucasus Update Part-I - August, 2010:

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How relevant is the Treaty of Moscow to international legal norms?

The upcoming Moscow visit of the Turkish delegation, headed by Prime Minister Erdogan, coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Treaty of Moscow, which put an end to the existence of Western Armenia. Whether it’s a coincidence or not, you can just guess. The fact is that hardly anything happens by chance in politics, and Erdogan is well aware on what day he arrives in Moscow.

The Treaty of Moscow is invalid in many aspects, the most important of them being that it was concluded between two unrecognized parties of international law: Kemalist Turkey and Bolshevist Russia. In 1921, Turkey was still called the Ottoman Empire and was ruled by Sultan Mehmed VI Wahid ed-din. Russia was then ruled by Bolshevists. The Turkish Republic, with which the Moscow Treaty was concluded, was proclaimed on Oct. 29, 1923. 90 years later all these “trifles” have been forgotten for some reason, and Armenia continues insisting on denunciation of the treaty that does not actually exist.

International law, which Turkey and Azerbaijan so often refer to, should logically deprive the contract of efficacy. However, everything is exactly the other way round. Alas, the contract led to the international-legal outcome of the conquest and partition of the Republic of Armenia between the RSFSR, Turkey and Azerbaijan. At least, so it is perceived in our time. Even then, Turkey wanted to drive the last remaining Armenians out of their historical homeland; Russia saw in them undesirable elements.

The Bolshevists did everything in their power to protect themselves against the East, and for the sake of it they sacrificed Armenia that was of no value to the Kremlin rulers. “World Revolution” is a very convenient term for winning and acquisition of friends who you need at the moment; then they are no longer necessary. The main thing for Moscow was to support Ataturk. And it is exactly what she actually did! Five-million-ruble worth of gold and mountains of weapons were given to the “national liberation struggle of the Turkish people”. One just wonders against whom this “national liberation struggle” was led. You needn’t know much about eastern policy to understand that it was directed against the Christian population of the Ottoman Turkey, i.e. Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians.

The massacre of 1922 in Izmir (Smyrna) and the re-exile of the Armenians returned from Cilicia were carried out on Russian money and with Russian weapons. In 1919, tens of thousands of Armenians from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine returned to Cilicia, where the French rule was being established on the basis of a mandate. For a while it seemed that protected by France, Cilicia would be able to become a state, completely independent of Turkey. Many Armenians, of course, remember the French-Armenian brotherhood arisen in Cilicia during the Crusades. Unfortunately, the experience of French government in Cilicia was doomed to short life and led to consequences, disastrous for the Armenian repatriates.

This is why one shouldn’t be surprised at the intimacy of Russian-Turkish relations. Turkey and Russia need each other and it will always be so. Let us not forget that at the time of the Armenian Genocide Russian diplomats in Constantinople hardly intervened in the “internal affairs” of the Young Turks. For Turkish investment Russia is a boundless territory and share of the Turkish capital in Russia is growing year by year. Turkish firms have a share in the construction of almost all of the major objects in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Muslim factor should also be taken into account – there are 20-30 million Muslims living in Russia, this number rising continually.

Let’s recall another fact. On October 30, 1918 on board the HMS Agamemnon in Moudros harbor on the Greek island of Lemnos the Armistice of Moudros was signed. Under the armistice, the Black Sea straits were opened to Allied navies; the Allies were granted the right to occupy the forts controlling the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles; the Ottomans surrendered their remaining garrisons in Hejaz, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and withdrew them from Iran, Cilicia and the Caucasus; the Allies were also granted the right to occupy “in case of disorder” the six Armenian provinces in Anatolia and to seize “any strategic point” in case of a threat to Allied security. Under these circumstances the Bolshevist Russia urgently needed an agreement with Turkey on any level, in order to neutralize the Entente, while Mustafa Kemal was in need of weapons and money.

What Putin and Erdogan will agree on at their upcoming meeting is not so important and interesting. The main thing for Armenia is that this agreement should not cause great harm. Russia is now trying to control resolution of problems in the Caucasus, which also includes normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. However, hardly is it possible that Moscow will be able to set the process in motion. Too many are the totally unsolvable problems proceeding from Turkey.


Salt in Wound: Erdogan thanks Russia for historic treaty Armenians consider illegal

Salt in Wound: Erdogan thanks Russia for historic treaty Armenians consider illegal

At a meeting in Moscow Wednesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave an original copy of the infamous Moscow Treaty, signed 90 years ago to the day, to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The timing of the meeting was seen by some Armenians as a slap in the face, as it was that treaty – signed without Armenia’s consent – that became the foundation for the Kars Treaty of October, 1921, which established the reduced borders that define contemporary Armenia.“The document is a turning point in our history. Our eastern borders were recognized under the Moscow agreement,” Erdogan told a press conference in the Kremlin. Russian President Medvedev praised Turkey for being a key trade partner with Russia.

It was also agreed during the meeting that Russia would build a nuclear power plant in Turkey. In Yerevan, news of the meeting was met with a protest in front of the Russian embassy here, led by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation “Nigol Aghbalian” Student Organization and the ARF Youth Organization of Armenia. Meanwhile, secretary of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Eduard Sharmazanov said there was no cause for concern over the occasion of the meeting in Moscow. “One should not consider Erdogan’s visit as Russia’s attempt to hurt Armenian people’s feelings,” the RPA rep told “Armenia and Russia are on good terms.”


Erdogan’s visit to Moscow casts no shadow on Armenia-Russia partnership

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Moscow should not be linked with the 90th anniversary of the Treaty of Moscow, Secretary of the Republican parliamentary group Eduard Sharmazanov told Armenian He stressed the agreement has no legal force as it was signed without Armenia’s participation. He commented on some Armenian politicians’ statements that Erdogan’s visit to Moscow was specifically scheduled for March 16 to mark the 90th anniversary of the treaty of Moscow (signing a treaty Turkey and Russia in fact divided the territory of the Republic of Armenia).

“One should not consider Erdogan’s visit as an attempt to hurt Armenian people’s feelings. Armenia and Russia are on good terms. It should be remembered that Azerbaijan was forced to sign the Sochi document on conducting international investigation in the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani armed forces under Russia’s pressure.

Commenting on Erdogan’s statement in Moscow that breakthrough may be expected in the Armenia-Turkey normalization if Karabakh peace process registers progress, Sharmazanov stated: “The international community, including Russia has repeatedly stated there is no connection between two processes. If Erdogan does seek peace and stability in the region, Turkey should open the border with Armenia as a gesture of goodwill and ratify the Armenia-Turkey accords,” the parliamentarian noted.


Turkish Premier’s visit to Moscow not to be conditioned by historical implications, Russian expert says

Dmitry Medvedev

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Moscow should not be conditioned by historical implications, Deputy Director of Strategic Culture Foundation Andrei Areshev told Armenian “The Turkish may have placed historical emphasis on this date, unlike the Russia side,” he commented on some Armenian politicians’ statements that Erdogan’s visit to Moscow was specifically scheduled for March 16 to mark the 90th anniversary of Treaty of Moscow.

“Russia was not going to hurt Armenian people’s feelings,” Areshev said. He stressed Erdogan’s visit to the Russian Federation has a broad agenda. “Special emphasis will be placed on economic issues, as economic cooperation is beneficial to both states,” the expert said.

According to Areshev, geopolitical issues, including Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution and Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, will also be discussed within the framework of the visit. “However, no critical breakthrough is expected at the meetings of Russian and Turkish officials, as their decision depends on other players too,” Areshev noted.

As Armenian reported earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Moscow on March 15. He will meet with Russian senior officials during his visit. According to some Armenian politicians, Erdogan’s visit to Moscow was planned for March 16 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Treaty of Moscow.


Protesters Urge Russia to Reject 1921 Moscow Treaty

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation “Nigol Aghbalian” Student Organization and the ARF Youth Organization of Armenia staged a protest Wednesday, demanding Russia to reject the 1921 Moscow Treaty. On March 16, 1921, representatives of Russia’s Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and Turkey’s Grand National Assembly signed a treaty, without the consent or participation of Armenian representatives, granting Kars and Surmalu to Turkey and placing Nakhichevan under Azeri control. This illegal document later served as the basis for the Kars Treaty of October, 1921.

The demonstration was organized to protest a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russia on the 90th anniversary of the illegal document. The demonstrators walked from the Stepan Shahoumyan square to the Russian Embassy chanting slogans and holding placards, which conveyed the day’s message of calling on the Russian authorities to reject the 1921 treay. Organizers asserted that by accepting Erdogan’s visit to Moscow on this date, Russia, a strategic partner of Armenia, was discarding its relations with Armenia The protesters demanded that Russia officially condemn the 1921 treaty and consider it not valid.

“This is a disgraceful treaty, which was realized by ignoring international norms, because there is no precedent whereby to governments sign a treaty regarding a third party, especially when the governments of the signatories were not recognized by the international community,” said ARF Supreme Council of Armenia representative, Armen Rustamian. “This is a case of violation of the rights of the Armenian people. If we do not condemn this, then we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes and suffer similar losses,” added Rustamian.

The ARF leader pointed out that Armenia’s Foreign Ministry could have declared that it did not recognize the Moscow Treaty and as such reject the subsequent Kars treaty, which Bolshevik Armenian leaders were forced to sign. He asserted, however, that official Yerevan has not taken such a step since its independence in 1991.

The organizers handed a protest letter to the Russian Embassy. The letter was carried in a coffin from the protest site to the entrance of the embassy, since Russian officials did not personally appear to accept the protest letter. “It is time that we show everyone that this treaty cannot have any legal basis for Armenia, and we are stand behind the past, present and future rights of our people, with the established of a free, united and independent Armenian state as our driving mission,” said ARF parliamentary bloc member Artsvik Minasyan.


Russo-Turkish Treaty From an International Legal Perspective

By Ara Papian

March 16 marks yet another anniversary for the so-called Russo-Turkish so-called treaty of Moscow (of the 16th of March, 1921). It is truly an anniversary, as it was from that treaty that the treaty of Kars (of October 13, 1921) was derived, by which, according to the poor understanding of some, the border between Armenia and Turkey was decided. Dozens of books and hundreds of articles have been written on the Treaty of Moscow. However, as strange as it may sound, an examination of the document has never been carried out from an international law perspective, in order to decide upon its validity.

According to an official UN guide and manual, “International treaties are agreements between subjects of International Law—creating, amending or terminating their mutual rights and obligations”(Manual of Public International Law, (ed. by Max Sorensen), New York, 1968, p. 38.). This is also codified by the Vienna Convention on Treaty Law (1969). Article 2.1.a of the convention describes a treaty as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law.” That is, correspondence to international law bears strongly on the legality of a treaty.

Accordingly, it is necessary that each party to the treaty be an authorized representative of the legitimate government of an internationally-recognized state. As noted in the preamble to the treaty of Moscow, the document was signed between “the government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and the government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.” As the status of any treaty is derived from the legal status of its signatories, it is therefore necessary to, first of all, determine each party’s legal status as of the March 16, 1921.

The Status of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic In 1921

At the time of the signing, there was no recognized state known as the “Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic” and, consequently, there was no such subject of international law. Naturally, its government did not have any authority to sign any international treaty. The RSFSR, under the guise of the USSR, eventually received legitimate international recognition, but only in 1924, with its acceptance by Great Britain (on the February 1, 1924) (Survey of International Affairs 1924, (Comp. by Arnold J. Toynbee), London, 1926, p. 491). All the “recognitions” until that time did not bring about any legal consequences, because they were, for their part, in the name of not-recognized countries or self-proclaimed governments.

For a recognition to be considered legal, it must be carried out in turn by a legally-recognized subject of international law (Moore J.B., Digest of International Law, Washington, 1906, v. I, p. 73.). For example, the Soviet government recognized the Baltic states in 1920, but such a recognition was not accepted by the Allied Powers based on the fact that the Soviet government was not itself legally recognized (Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1920, v. III, p. 462. (The Secretary of State (Colby) to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis), August 2, 1920, p. 461-3).

This approach was confirmed with a judicial ruling. In the case of RSFSR vs. Cibrario (1923), a US court declined the appeal of the Soviet government, since it was not recognized ( Hudson M.O., Annual Digest of Public International Law, Cambridge, 1931-1932, Case No. 28.). A similar ruling on the same basis was made by the Supreme Court of Sweden in the case of Soviet Government vs. Ericsson (1921) (Hudson M.O., Annual Digest of Public International Law, Cambridge, 1931-1932, Case No. 28.).

The aforementioned and dozens of other court rulings and formal decisions by governments serve to reconfirm the principle of international law that, without recognition, governments do not legally exist. Consequently, no legal activities (such as signing treaties, granting or revoking citizenship, participating in a judicial proceeding, etc.) may be carried out by such (Ti-Chiang Chen, The International Law of Recognition, London, 1951, p. 138.).

The status of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1921

What is written above on the Soviet authorities and government is, in essence, entirely applicable to the so-called government of the “Grand National Assembly of Turkey,” on whose behalf the Turkish side signed the treaty of Moscow. It is noteworthy that even the Kemalists had no aspirations to declare themselves authorized representatives of Turkey in the presence of legitimate governments.

They did not sign treaties as “Turkey” or “the government of Turkey,” but as the “government” of a body known as “the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.” The Turkish Grand National Assembly had the status of an NGO in modern parlance, consisting of former parliamentarians, military personnel, and bureaucrats who had all lost their offices.

Such organizations have existed and still do exist in many countries of the world, including in Armenia. The group headed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had no legal basis in international law to represent the Turkish state. There is no doubt that, at least until November, 1922, until the departure of Sultan Mehmet VI from Turkey, it was the government of the sultan which reserved the right to carry out acts as per international law on behalf of Turkey, and only the sultan had the power to authorize anyone to act in the name of the country, according to Article 7 of the constitution of the Ottoman Empire (O’Connell D.P., State Succession in Municipal Law and International Law, v. I, Cambridge, 1967, p. 211.).

The Kemalist movement generally arose and proceeded out of violating the Ottoman constitution as well as international law, namely, the rebellion against the state’s legitimate authority the Sultan-Caliph and also going against the Armistice of Moudros (of the 30th of October, 1918). In 1921, Mustafa Kemal was simply a criminal on the run.

For that very reason, the highest clergyman of the empire, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, proclaimed a fatwa condemning Mustafa Kemal to death on April 11, 1920. The Turkish military court also sentenced him to death on the May 11 of that same year. The sentence was confirmed by the sultan on the May 24, 1920. The criminal proceedings against Kemal and the Kemalists concluded on May 24, 1923, with a corresponding proclamation (Amnesty Declaration and Protocol, signed 24 July 1923).

What is more, the clauses on Armenia in the treaty of Moscow consist of yet another violation of international law, as “treaties can only pertain to the parties to the treaty and cannot create any obligations or rights for any third parties not party to the treaty without the agreement of the third party” (Branimir M. Jankovic, Public International law, New York, 1984, p. 302.).

This principle is also codified in Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on Treaty Law: “A treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third State without its consent.” Thus, in accordance with the aforementioned, the treaty of Moscow—which is illegal and invalid—could not include or impose any obligations on the Republic of Armenia, much less determine the border of Armenia and Turkey (article 1 in treaty) or hand over Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan as a protectorate (article 3 of the treaty), as the treaty of Moscow was signed in clear violations of centuries-old mandatory and inalienable peremptory norms.

And, as codified by Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on Treaty Law, “A treaty is void, if at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm (jus cogens) of general international law.”


Turkey should remember Treaty of Sevres rather than treaties of Moscow or Kars

Spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary group Eduard Sharmazanov said that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement does not jeopardize Armenia-Russia relations. “The Armenian-Russian relations are at such a high level that Russia’s ties with other countries cannot jeopardize them,” Sharmazanov told journalists in Yerevan.

He also referred to the 90th anniversary of the Moscow Treaty, which was marked during the Turkish Prime Minister’s recent visit to Moscow. According to Sharmazanov, Turkey should remember the Treaty of Sevres and Armenian-Turkish protocols signed in Zurich rather than the treaties of Moscow and Kars. Upon arriving in Moscow on March 16, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented an original copy of the Treaty of Moscow signed 90-years-ago to the day, to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, along with a commemorative stamp issued in Turkey to mark the 90th anniversary of the illegal treaty.

The anniversary of the invalid treaty, as well as the timing of the Erdogan-Medvedev meeting was the subject of demonstration held at the Russian Embassy in Yerevan. The demonstration was organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Nigol Aghbalian student and youth organization of Armenia to demand invalidation of the Treaty of Moscow. According to historian Edik Minasyan, the Treaty of Moscow is illegal, as in March 1921 the Kemalist Turkey and Russia were not recognized as subjects of the international law and had no right to decide on destiny of a third state.


Turkey Sticks by Plans for Nuclear Power Plant

President Medvedev greeting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, in the Kremlin on Wednesday.

Turkey on Wednesday reiterated its commitment for a Russian-built nuclear plant in an important show of confidence in atomic energy as a tsunami-battered Japan tried to prevent major radioactive contamination. But Moscow made it clear that something has gone wrong in another key area where it has counted on Ankara's support: the South Stream pipeline. President Dmitry Medvedev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that nuclear power could be safe even for earthquake-prone areas such as Japan and Turkey. "I am sure that the nuclear power plant to be built in Turkey will be a model for the rest of the world," Erdogan said after a meeting with Medvedev in the Kremlin. "We can't drop joint projects because of earthquakes."

Medvedev said the reactors that Russia plans to construct in Turkey are much newer in design than the ones that are causing trouble in Japan and therefore require no drastic safety improvements, if any, to sustain even the "most devastating" earthquake. That said, Russia is open to discuss "optimizing" the work, he said. ussia agreed in May to build and own a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu. Erdogan said at a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later Wednesday that the plan was to lay the foundation for the plant in late April or May.

There appeared to be less unity between the countries on the matter of South Stream. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin indicated that Russia had expected Turkey to issue the final permit for the pipeline to cross the Turkish waters of the Black Sea months ago. Instead, Turkey only allowed Gazprom to conduct seabed exploration in the waters and asked for more information, he said. "So far, we don't understand the reasons why we didn't receive the permit," he told reporters after the Medvedev-Erdogan talks, adding that the country leaders had talked about the issue.

Putin last week ordered Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko to research the option of building an LNG plant on the Russian coast of the Black Sea to produce shipboard gas in addition to the pipeline. Shmatko's deadline expired precisely as Erdogan arrived for talks, but the ministry has not reported its findings publicly. The LNG plant proposal prompted some analysts to raise doubts about the underwater stretch of South Stream. Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Vladimir Ivanovsky, said Wednesday that the LNG plant would be an alternative to the pipeline, Interfax reported.

Medvedev and Erdogan said only that the countries would continue to work on the pipeline project. Gazprom and Italy's Eni are planning to invest upward of 10 billion euros ($14 billion) to lay the pipeline under the sea and across several south European countries in a bid to reduce transit through Ukraine. The disagreement over South Stream is unfolding as Turkey fails to make progress in securing Russian support for an oil pipeline across Turkey. Russia backed the idea in general in October 2009 but said transportation costs on the Samsun-Ceyhan route would be too high. The pipeline, which would take off the increasing load from the congested Bosporus, would require investment of $4 billion. Rosneft and Transneft could join the project, which is now a joint venture between Turkey's Calik and Eni.

Erdogan said Wednesday that he wanted work on the project to speed up. Turkey hasn't been successful in winning discounts for Russian gas supplies during the time of glut. Medvedev said Wednesday that discounts were possible in exchange for Turkish concessions, which he didn't specify. "We are ready to consider various approaches and respond to some proposals with a view to the market situation, but this process must be mutual," he said. "If we treat such projects and decisions as friends … [and] if we spend our political resources reasonably, then the problems on the market will be less obvious." Sechin said the gas price would only grow, given the political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.


No South Stream deal with Turkey - Russia

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said on Wednesday that no agreement has been reached with Turkey on the South Stream pipeline that is planned to cross its territorial waters. We don't understand why we haven't got the permission," Sechin said. "On the one hand, our Turkish partners are telling us that Gazprom has not supplied the necessary documents to carry out this project. "But Gazprom cannot supply the documents, because Gazprom was only given the permission on Feb 9 to carry out exploration works starting May 31." Turkey is a major player in the rival $10.8 billion Nabucco project, backed by the European Union, to pipe gas from Turkmenistan to Europe, while Russia has proposed the South Stream pipeline, under the Black Sea.


Turkey Can’t Hamper SouthStream Pipeline, Says Putin

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ruled out the possibility that Turkey could hamper the South Stream pipeline project, saying nothing would stop Moscow from implementing it. “We do not think there is any threat to this project from the side of our Turkish partners,” Putin told a joint news conference with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at Brdo pri Kranju near Ljubljana. “We have a lot of possibilities, nothing can stop us from implementing the project we have agreed with the Turkish side,” he stressed.

During a recent visit to Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made minimal public remarks on the South Stream pipeline, saying merely that “joint work is continuing.” Russian media reported that Turkey was purposely delaying its approval of the route through its Black Sea waters in order to bargain for lower gas prices. “We are ready for every possible development. We consider it possible to liquefy gas and carry it to the Bulgarian coast, or it is also possible to liquefy it where it is produced, at the Yamal peninsula, and bring it to the South-eastern European countries and put it in the pipeline there,” Putin said. Putin arrived to Slovenia on a two-day visit aimed at strenghthening cooperation between the two states.

During the meeting with Pahor, a series ob bilateral agreements were signed including one between Russia’s Gazprom gas giant and Slovenian Geoplin to enforce the construction of the South stream pipeline through Slovenia. The pipeline project, championed by Putin since 2007, would pump gas from southern Russia to the Balkans and onwards to other European countries. It is seen as a rival to the European Nabucco project, which will bypass Russia.

Slovenia agreed with Russia in 2009 to allow the construction of the South Stream pipeline through its territory. Based on that agreement, Gazprom and Geoplin signed on Tuesday a deal to found a joint company that would draw the possible route of the pipeline through Slovenia and run its construction. “Through this agreement, I’m convinced Slovenia is enforcing its position. Possibilities for the pipeline route to cross Slovenia are very high,” the head of Geoplin Marjan Eberlinc told journalists after signing the deal. He added “Slovenia sees many advantages in this project, particularly considering a safe supply of energy.”


Related news:


The Self-Determination Union (SDU) held a rally in central Yerevan on March 16 to demand annulment of the 1921, March 16 Treaty signed between the Bolshevik Russia and Turkey, which left some provinces of the territories of the 1918-1920 Armenian Republic under Turkish control. The details of the rally are not important, what is important is the process of the annulment and that it was initiated by Paruyr Hayrikian, the chairman of presidential human rights commission and former leader of the SDU. In this respect, the announcements of the latter, who claim that the treaty was signed by Russia and Turkey behind Armenia are no less important. This automatically leads to annulment of October 13, 1921 Kars treaty.

There is no doubt that the March 16 treaty was signed behind Armenia, as to the 1921 October 13 treaty signed on the one hand by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and on the other hand by Turkey with participation of Russia, it contains all the provisions of the March 16 treaty, and therefore is as illegal as the Moscow one. If the Moscow treaty was the result of a deal between Ataturk and Lenin, the Kars treaty was the direct outcome of the Moscow treaty. To annul the Kars treaty, as proposes Hayrikian, the Armenian authorities should first annul the Moscow one, which is directly linked to Moscow and Turkey.

As the SDU "is for establishment of friendly relations with Turkey", by condemning a treaty signed by two other states which refers to a third country, in this case Armenia, the SDU actually condemns Russia. A question arises, whether there are guarantees that Armenia might sign a more profitable agreement with Turkey than that of the Kars, without Russia's participation, having in mind that by rejecting to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, Turkey actually rejects the right of Armenians to have their sovereign state and has imposed a blockade on it.

By the way, the 1920 December 2 treaty signed between Turkey and Armenia's Dashnak government was truly a bilateral one with no participation of Russia. Irrespective of whether the Kars treaty, signed with participation of Russia, would be recognized illegal, it was Russia's participation that forced Turkey to officially annul the Alexandropol treaty of the 1920. So, before announcing Kars treaty illegal, Hayrikian should first think about Alexandropol treaty. What if it becomes effective? Perhaps, by this Hayrikian would enter into friendly relations with Turkey, but Armenia would have to ask Russia to eliminate its aftereffects.


Armenia remains and will remain in Russia's orbit

News.Az interviews Thomas Ambrosio, an associate professor of political science at North Dakota State University.

Do you believe in prospects of new era relations between US and Russia, as they promise in Washington and Moscow?

I am dubious about the prospects for a 'reset' - as it has been called - between Russia and the United States. US-Russian relations are more often than not based upon the perceived interests of the two parties -- this is probably more the case of Russia, while America tends to mix its interests with ideology. While the recent abstention by Russia on the Libya vote was helpful, it should not be taken as a sign that Hillary Clinton's 2009 'reset' is paying off. There are areas that the two states will agree on and areas where we will disagree. No rhetoric about how Moscow and Washington have 'turned the page' on the downturn during the Bush administration will change that. The downturn was based upon the perceived interests of Washington and Moscow, the future will be no different.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the North Atlantic alliance will build a missile defence system separately from Russia. Could this escalate tension between NATO and Russia?

It is possible, but the real issue is not and never was the missile defense system. The real issue between Washington and Moscow is the latter's insistence that it is a great power with a sphere of influence and its fears of Washington spreading its own sphere of influence closer to Russia. Everyone knows that the proposed missile defense system could be easily overwhelmed by Russia and that it offered virtually no protection against Russian missiles; we knew it, the Russians knew it. What was important was that having the missile defense shield in a former Soviet satellite state said a lot about the relative power of the US and Russia. It was symbolic of Russia's weakness and therefore had to be opposed by the Kremlin.

Russia has begun modernization of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan. Could it make more attractive Russian proposal about joint use of the station with the US?

Sure. It makes the West dependent upon Russia and therefore feeds into Russia's consistent attempt to overcompensate for its weakness.

What is your view of NATO's new security concept? Does it concern somehow partner states from post-soviet space, Azerbaijan in particular?

I am not convinced that it is really all that new. Sure, there are new parts to it (e.g., the mention of cyber-security), but ultimately NATO can only function effectively when it is in the interests or willingness of its member states -- thus, little has changed since the end of the Cold War. In terms of Azerbaijan, its relationship with NATO is likewise predicated upon the interests and willingness of the organization's member states, as the organization's lack of any substantive response to Russia's invasion of Georgia illustrated.

Russia is the main political, economic and military ally of Armenia. But they say about EU and US plans to weaken Russian influence on Armenia. Do you believe that this could happen?

No. Even if the EU and US were serious, what could they offer Armenia to pull it out of Russia's orbit? Given Armenia's geographical position, Yerevan must look toward Moscow - Russia is far closer to Armenia than the European Union or, especially, the US. Given the relative level of interests in the Caucasus, Armenia cannot rely on the West's promises -- Moscow has far deeper interests in the region and therefore is far more willing to act in defense of its interests than any outside powers or bloc. As a result, Armenia remains and will remain in Russia's orbit.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.